Plymouth, Massachusetts

2020 is the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in what would become Massachusetts in 1620. These colonists sailed from England on the ship, the Mayflower, and formed the Mayflower Compact before leaving the ship, in which the colonists agreed to submit to the government which would be chosen by common consent.

The Pilgrims also had a historic encounter with the Wampanoag Native American tribe, which many consider the first Thanksgiving (see my Berkeley Plantation review to learn why Virginians bristle at that statement). This is the traditional Thanksgiving story we learned about in our elementary social studies class (sorry, Virginia!).  

Due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, many of the celebratory events for the 400th anniversary have been canceled or changed to virtual. As we go into the Thanksgiving season, this is a great opportunity to enhance your child’s knowledge of this important event in American history through the many free online educational resources.  

We lived in Massachusetts for several years in the late 1990s, and as any good history enthusiast, I had to visit Plymouth Rock (learn about its history here). I was a bit disappointed that it was just a rock surrounded by an enclosure. Thankfully, you can now visit several museums nearby, including a replica of the Mayflower and the Jabez Howland House, an original home dating to the time period. There’s also a museum in nearby Pilgrim Hall, which is still closed due to COVID but has many online resources for parents and kids.  

The living history museum, Plimoth Plantation, has many activities and events specifically geared to families. Similar to Virginia’s Jamestown, the historical site has recreated a 17th century English village and Wampanoag Indian village for your family to explore. It looks like a fantastic educational site! It has reopened for in-person visits but you can still find many resources online. Keep in mind its Thanksgiving feast if you plan a visit during November! 

While the pandemic travel restrictions prevented my planned trip to Massachusetts in April, I am using these online resources to learn more about this important anniversary and to plan an upcoming trip to Plymouth with my family. 

To help your kids learn more about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans, check out Tech Savvy Homeschool’s list of best Thanksgiving books. 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration this month, and take time to remember those from history who made it possible.